Editorial: Laura Colbert of Georgians for a Healthy Future cites Georgia’s high uninsured rate, the opioid epidemic, and the financial struggles of rural hospitals in calling for the state to…
Georgians for a Healthy Future’s eighth annual Health Care Unscrambled breakfast built on previous years’ successes with another standing room-only crowd. This year’s legislative panelists were:
Each panelist provided updates on emerging health care trends impacting Georgia and took questions from the audience about what healthcare initiatives are likely to be taken up in the 2018 legislative session. Topics included Medicaid expansion, federal funding of PeachCare for Kids (CHIP), surprise out of network medical billing, access to mental health and substance use treatment services, network adequacy, hospital closures, scope of practice for non-physician providers, Certificate of Need reform, maternal and infant mortality, rural health care access, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), federal health care reform, the opioid epidemic and homelessness.
Senator Unterman, Chairwoman of the Senate HHS Committee, led the conversation with updates of the findings and recommendations from the myriad study committees she chaired or established in the 2017 off-session including the Senate Study Committees on Homelessness, Georgians Barriers toAdequate Access to Healthcare, as well as her participation on Lt. Gov. Cagle’s Health Care Reform Task Force. New Minority Leader Bob Trammell, along with Representative Sam Park, announced their intention to introduce legislation to expand Medicaid in Georgia (which has now been filed as House Bill 669) and Rep. Mark Newton, an Augusta area ER physician and Senator Elena Parent, Deputy Whip in the Senate Minority Caucus both elaborated on the Medicaid expansion debate, mental health issues facing the state, the opioid epidemic and rural health care access.
This year’s key note speaker was Robin Rudowitz, Associate Director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Ms. Rudowitz provided some background information on the federal Medicaid program, as well as Georgia’s program specifically. She pointed out that children are the primary beneficiaries in Georgia’s Medicaid program followed by people with disabilities, pregnant women, and seniors respectively. Georgia’s Medicaid program does not cover adults making less than 138% of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 per year for an individual and $21,000 for a family of 3) because Georgia’s policymakers have thus far refused to extend health coverage to this population. There was an extended discussion by Ms. Rudowitz and audience members about the new flexibility offered by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to state Medicaid programs may impact children and other enrollees, as well as how it may change existing Medicaid expansion programs in other states, This information presented by Ms. Rudowitz and subsequent discussion are sure to inform the considerations around the future of Georgia’s Medicaid program. Ms. Rudowitz’s presentation can be accessed here.
To see photos, review materials, and get more information about this year’s Health Care Unscrambled event, please visit the event page.